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In the northern Colorado Front Range, fire suppression during the 20th century is believed to have created a high hazard of catastrophic fire in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. Since the early 1990s, resource managers have increased the use of prescribed fires to re-create fire regimes and forest structures similar to those of the pre-Euro-American settlement period in order both to reduce fire hazard and to improve forest health. To improve understanding of historical fire regimes, we conducted a study of fire history along an elevational gradient from \sim1830 to 2800 m in ponderosa pine forests in the northern Front Range. Fire-scar dates were determined from 525 partial cross sections from living and...
Human activities have caused the decline of numerous species and ecosystems. To promote ecosystem resilience, recent management efforts aim to maintain ecosystem patterns and processes within their historical range of variability. There has been substantial concern that quaking aspen, the most widely distributed tree in North America and the most important deciduous tree in the subalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains, has declined significantly in the western landscape during the 20th century. This reported decline has been attributed to conifer encroachment associated with fire exclusion, as well as other causes. To assess long-term changes in the extent of quaking aspen in a 175000-ha study area in western Colorado,...
Spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis Kirby) outbreaks are important disturbances affecting subalpine forests of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in the southern Rocky Mountains. However, little is known about the influences of these outbreaks on overall forest dynamics. We used age-structure analyses and dendrochronological techniques to investigate the effects of a major spruce beetle outbreak on stand composition, dominance, tree age and size structures, radial growth, and succession in subalpine forests in Colorado. This outbreak, which occurred in the 1940s, caused a shift in dominance from spruce to fir and a reduction in average and...
Age and size data on over 2200 trees were used to reconstruct developmental.patterns and regeneration dynamics of four successional and two climax stands of subalpine forests in the Colorado Front Range. The dominant tree species of these forests are Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), limber pine (Pinusflexilis), and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta). Due to relatively weak relationships between age and size for all four species, patterns of stand development could not have been reliably inferred from size data alone. Following wildfire on the most xeric sites, limber pine is the principal pioneer species and dominates seedling establishment for 50 to 100 or more years. At most...
Understanding the effect of variation in climate on large-fire occurrence across broad geographic areas is central to effective fire hazard assessment. The El Nin?o? Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) affect winter temperature and precipitation regimes in western North America through mid-latitude teleconnections. This study examines relationships of ENSO and the PDO to drought-induced fire occurrence in subalpine forests of three study areas across the Rocky Mountains: Jasper National Park (JNP, northern Rockies), Yellowstone National Park (YNP, central Rockies) and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP, southern Rockies) over the 1700?1975 period. Large-scale climatic anomalies...
In the subalpine forests of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, research on disturbances that have occurred over the past several decades has shown that prior occurrence of disturbances can alter the extent and severity of subsequent disturbances. In the current study, we consider how fire history affected stand susceptibility to a mid-19th century spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis Kirby 1837) outbreak. Twenty-one sites were randomly located in an Engelmann spruce ? subalpine fir (Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm. ? Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.) forest across ~2000 km2 of the Grand Mesa area, Colorado. At each site, dendrochronological methods were used to reconstruct the history of severe fires and beetle outbreak....
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Aim The recent concern that quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) has been declining in parts of western North America due to fire suppression is largely based on trends during the latter part of the 20th century. The aim of the current study was to compare the extent of aspen in the modern landscape with its extent in the late 19th century prior to fire suppression, and to assess the effects of elevation, late-19th century fires, and pre-fire forest composition on the successional status of aspen. Location North-west Colorado, USA. Methods We used a georeferenced 1898 map and modern maps to examine trends in aspen dominance since the late 19th century in a 348,586 ha area of White River and Routt National...


    map background search result map search result map Influences of infrequent fire, elevation and pre-fire vegetation on the persistence of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) in the Flat Tops area, Colorado, USA Influences of infrequent fire, elevation and pre-fire vegetation on the persistence of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) in the Flat Tops area, Colorado, USA